Get to know the man who led Ireland to an U20 Six Nations Grand Slam

Ireland U20 and Ulster back-row Reuben Crothers

Date of birth 28 January 2002 Born Craigavon Position Back-row Province Ulster Country Ireland

When did you first play?

I was six years old and it was mini rugby at Lisburn Rugby Club. My father, Owen, was one of the coaches and he was a big influence in my younger years. He still gives me tips now –  he played No 7 for Lisburn.

Have you always played in the back row? 

For the majority of my career. In my first few years at Wallace High School, I played second row, then from 14 onwards I was in the back row.

I like the physical nature of the position. You’re involved in a lot of collisions and are a link player. I like to think back-rows have the skills of backs and the physical, confrontational side of forwards.

What are your strengths? 

My breakdown work and work-rate defensively. I’m trying to develop my jackaling ability, to be technically better, and my ball carry, to be more explosive with the ball carry.

When did you link up with Ulster? 

When I was 15, with Ulster U16. You’d play for your school throughout the year and have a few matches for Ulster U16 in the summer. I moved on to the U17s, U18s and came into the academy in my first year out of school. Unfortunately I missed most of that year with injury.

Tell us about the U20 Six Nations Grand Slam…

We came into our first game against Wales perceived as underdogs; the reaction we had to that tag was to beat Wales and France… It was a really tough championship so I’m proud of the boys.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career? 

I’ve had a lot. My father. Willie Faloon, the academy forwards coach who worked with the U20s too. Derek Suffern, my coach at Wallace HS. Lisburn, Ballynahinch, Wallace HS, Ulster… they’ve all had a big part to play.

What do you do away from rugby?

I study law at Queen’s University Belfast. It’s a three-year course and I did last year full-time but have split this year in half.

RW Verdict: He impressed during Ireland’s Six Nations clean sweep, both with his physicality and leadership. He also has a clear plan for the future with his degree – David Pocock was an idol growing up given his rugby-life balance.

This article originally appeared in the June 2022 edition of Rugby World.

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